What is a good example of a complex error prone dish?

Joined May 2, 2020
I have an unusual homework assignment, the task is to find a well known dish or recipe that has a number of potential error points, to research it very thoroughly, and to write a guide on how it is to be done, how to evaluate progress and spot failures along the way, how to determine what went wrong, and what kinds of common problems people experience are... Along with thoroughly researching the ingredients individually, the dish historically and culturally.

I need something a little complex with different stages. This is for a writing assignment, I am not a chef.

Any ideas are appreciated.
Joined Aug 15, 2003
Sausages/pates might work for your purposes...they are not overly complicated to make, but do require care and craftsmanship. They also have several critical steps along the way that are easy to identify.

I have to say, this is a pretty good assignment for a culinary student. A lot fo the time when people post for help with their homework, it's the usual "Interview a chef" or some such nonsense. This seems like a relavent assignment to help a student start to develop a critical eye for the food and how to start developing skills to communicate and correct staff.
Joined Oct 31, 2012
I was going to say Wellington but you beat me to it. Lots to write about though. The puff pastry (hand made of course), the duxelles, Foie Gras, searing the meat or not, etc.
Then there's pates and terrines, especially en croute. The choices, the necessity of keeping the ingredients cold, pre cooking the garniture, pate cooking temp, water bath or not, fish or meat or veg.
I agree this is a Great topic for a student.


Staff member
Joined Oct 7, 2001
Not necessarily a "complex" dish, but a simple roast chicken has a number of steps and is a dish that, while easy to make, can be very difficult to make great.
Joined Oct 1, 2006
"Tarte Tatin" has a nifty back story and multiple error points.

"Hollandaise Sauce" has multiple temperature centric issues, including handling after making.

Whatever you choose, don't forget to address the "Salt to taste" paradox. Since you aren't a chef, we know to aim for middle of the road for salt. but since everyone has a different standard for salt, you have an invisible error point. Two identical bowls of soup can have one person reaching for salt. I knew a cook that salted his ham sandwich and I thought the ham was too salty to start with!

Good Luck!
Joined Nov 2, 2016
A simple roast chicken is something I've been working on since we're locked in Purgatory here in Virginia. My wife is less than adventurous wife when it comes to food, so I have to work different ways keep it interesting. Next up is a Roast Chicken using some Corriander, Cumin, Turmeric, and a touch of lemon.
Joined Oct 2, 2016
  • bearnaise/hollandaise sauce
  • mayonaise
  • fresh french fries
  • grilled steak
make an excel spreadsheet,
  • column 1 is step number: 1, 2, 3, ...
  • column 2 the ingredient: egg yolk, mustard, oil, ...
  • column 3 per unit (kg / L / p))
  • (column 4 quantity for 1)
  • column 5 quantity for a batch: 4p, 50g, 1L
  • column 6 action by the operator with points of attention: place in the bottom, mix by gently incorporating, the oil must be absorbed with each movement, ...
  • column 7 tool: whisk
  • column 8 containing: bowl
each horizontal line is a breakdown of the procedure
each vertical column summarizes the products or actions by family in the correct chronological order without confusion.
The table can easily be supplemented with profitability calculation data (the expected working time, the percentage of each ingredient, ...), pisctures etc ...

good luck
Joined Jan 8, 2010
Just wondering what T Thender21 chose for the assignment.
I got another one: RICE in all its different forms and preparations
Basmati/pandan/jasmine/ketan/etc etc
Joined Mar 1, 2017
Any dish that is more technique than recipe will do.

Choose the 5 sauces of classic French cuisine. Attempt them yourself and account for what you did correctly and where you went wrong. You may as well get used to that sort of self evaluation because when you're cooking professionally, the ability to objectively evaluate yourself is a priceless skill set.

If you are looking for a task that's a bit easier to manage, poach an egg. You'd be surprised at the number of culinary school grads I have encountered in my time that couldn't properly poach an egg.

If you want something a bit more interesting than poaching an egg, make a French omelette or make demi glace.

Any of the suggestions that have been made in this thread are excellent choices.

Good luck. :)
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